Can I get a high five? It’s the long weekend! This has been an intense week for me and I am ready to relax, head to a lake with some friends and enjoy summer’s last fling. Cheesecake is on the menu, as is steak, with plenty of this grilled corn & avocado salad (my latest obsession).
Speaking of steak, I thought I’d share with you my favorite and oh-so-simple way to enjoy it. You already know how to grill the perfect steak, so why not learn how to mix up a succulent flavored butter to top your beef? I’ve even cooked up a how-to video to inspire you to try ‘compound butter’.
Believe it or not, when I was in culinary school we devoted an entire day to compound butter, butter creamed with various flavorings and aromatics, rolled in a log, and chilled until needed to jazz up a sauce, steak or vegetable. The devotion we showed to this condiment no doubt stemmed from the long-term love affair between classic French cooking and that highly-esteemed stick of dairy.
It’s a brilliant idea, really. Chop herbs, crush garlic and grind pepper into a slab of soft butter, freeze it in a log, and slice off a round as needed. Voila, an instant burst of flavor – and moisture – for a bowl of tired left-over pasta, a dried-out grilled chicken breast, or one of the many other uses listed below.
Uses For Compound Butter
- Cream into mashed potatoes
- Toss with fresh-cooked pasta
- Melt over steamed vegetables
- Spread onto bread and grill or broil for garlic toast
- Top a grilled chicken breast
- Dot on top of any roasted red meat
- Add to sauces
- Coat a filet of baked, grilled or broiled fish
- Mix with hot sauteed shrimp
- Rub onto corn on the cob
Now onto the recipes! Of all the compound butter combinations we learned in cooking school, only two really stuck around and forced themselves into my cooking repertoire. The first is a classic garlic-herb combination, perfumed with lemon zest, and is adapts easily to any fresh herbs you happen to have on hand. I demonstrate how to make this condiment in the vlog below.
Vlog: How to Make Compound Butter
Lemon-Dill Compound Butter
- 1/4 cup fresh dill, washed & dried, tough stems removed
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 cup (1/2 lb) unsalted butter, softened
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- On a large chopping board, roughly chop dill. Add chopped garlic and butter and chop to combine.
- Add lemon zest & juice, and using your knife like a paddle, combine lemon into butter. Season with salt and pepper.
- Spread out a rectangle of plastic wrap, place butter in the lower half, and roll up as demonstrated in the video.
- Chill until ready to use.
TIP: You can make compound butter in a mixer, or bowl with a spatula, but since since we’re already using a cutting board for the herbs and garlic, why not make the whole thing right on the board and avoid the extra dishes?
This is the second recipe that I absolutely adore. This red-wine butter is easy to make, yet tastes surprisingly sophisticated when melted and mixed with the juices of a perfectly grilled steak. It becomes a sauce in it’s own way and elevates a rather boring steak to something, well, something worth writing about!
“Beurre Rouge” or Red-Wine Compound Butter
adapted from Les Halles Cookbook
This recipe makes a lot–enough to top a dozen or so steaks–but it can keep for a few months if it is well-wrapped in the freezer. Have I mentioned that it’s nice to have something like this on hand to garnish a good steak?
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 8 oz butter, softened
- 1 handful of flat parsley, finely chopped
- salt and pepper
- In a small pot combine the wine and shallot and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the wine has almost completely evaporated, taking care not to let the shallots burn. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and let cool.
- In the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment, combine butter, shallot-wine mixture, the parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
- Scrape out of the bowl with a rubber spatula and place in the center of a large piece of plastic wrap. Gently form into a 1-inch diameter log, shaping and squeezing as demonstrated in the video. Twist the ends of the plastic wrap tightly and refrigerate until the butter is firm enough to slice of freeze for later use.
Ready to make herb butter? What is your favorite fresh herb to cook with?